(HealthDay News) – Eating fast food ≥3 times per week is associated with an increased risk of severe asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema among children and adolescents, while eating fruit seems to be protective against severe asthma, according to research published online Jan. 14 in Thorax.

Philippa Ellwood, DPH, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues report results from Phase 3 of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood study. The study evaluated the potential impact of different types of food on asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema symptom prevalence among 319,196 13- to 14-year-olds from 51 countries and 181,631 6- to 7-year-olds from 31 countries.

The researchers found that the likelihood of severe asthma was significantly reduced with consumption of fruit ≥3 times per week for adolescents (odds ratio [OR], 0.89) and children (OR, 0.86). Consumption of fast food ≥3 times per week was associated with a significantly increased risk for severe asthma among adolescents (OR, 1.39) and children (OR, 1.27), and for increased risk of severe rhinoconjunctivitis and severe eczema. For both ages, similar patterns were seen for regional analyses and with current symptoms of these conditions.

“If the association between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally,” Ellwood and colleagues conclude.

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